MAC/20: Mines and Communities

Newmont Mining's exploration camp burnt on Sumbawa Island

Published by MAC on 2006-03-19

Newmont Mining's exploration camp burnt on Sumbawa Island

JAKARTA (Bloomberg)

19th March 2006

Newmont Mining Corp., the world's largest gold miner (see note *), said protesters burnt Sunday an exploration camp on Sumbawa island. No one was injured.

The company's US$2 billion Batu Hijau gold and copper mine, which is about 60 kilometers from the exploration camp was unaffected by the attack today, a spokeswoman said. Sumbawa is about 1,000 kilometers east of Jakarta.

"We had evacuated all the employees there and halted activities since yesterday, as we had heard information of a planned attack," Nunik Maulana, PT Newmont Pacific Nusantara's spokeswoman, said in an interview. "Until now it's not clear who were the attackers and what are their demands."

Protests and attacks against overseas miners have increased this year. Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold Inc., which runs the world's biggest gold and the second-biggest copper mine in Papua province, suspended operations at the Grasberg mine for threedays on Feb. 22 after demonstrators blocked the road leading to the site. Demonstrations against Freeport have continued. Four security officials were killed on March 22 in Papua's capital by protesters.

Newmont last month agreed to pay Indonesia $30 million in an effort to resolve a dispute with the government, which alleges the company polluted the sea near its mine on Sulawesi island. The money, which will be paid over 10 years, will be used to setup an environmental monitoring and assessment program in the region.

The agreement ended a civil lawsuit in which the government had sought $117 million from Newmont. The accord does not resolve a criminal case being heard in the provincial capital of Manado.

In that trial, Newmont Indonesia's President Director Richard Ness faces as many as 10 years in prison if convicted on charges of pollution. Ness denies the charges.

Newmont's Batu Hijau mine, on Sumbawa Island, has 7,000 workers who excavate reserves estimated to last until 2033.

(* Note: The world's largest gold mining company is now Barrick Gold of Canada.)

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